Evan Frazier’s latest endeavor at bringing Iberia to California is Poco Tinto, a 100% Graciano made so light and fresh as to be perfectly chug-gable. As he puts it, “The concept was to make a light, fresh, early bottled red that can be served chilled if the weather or mood is right. I felt like labeling the wine ‘Poco Tinto’ rather than just varietally as Graciano because, in a certain way, it’s a wine of style rather than variety.” Like the Ferdinand Albariño, the fruit was sourced from the Vista Luna Vineyard in Lodi’s Borden Ranch sub appellation. Winemaking involved early picking for natural acidity and 100% whole cluster carbonic maceration and the result is a wine with fresh aromas of red fruits, roses and a crunchy palate.
Because just seven or eight grape varieties dominate California wine production (for example, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris account for 69% of all white wine grapes), one might not notice a growing trend toward non-traditional grape varieties. However, more and more growers and winemakers are either rediscovering varieties that once played a role in California’s past (e.g. Petite Sirah or Mourvèdre) or are experimenting with grapes (e.g. Nebbiolo, Aglianico) that have rarely travelled beyond their home regions. Ferdinand Wines is one such winery setting out on this path. Founder Evan Frazier got his start in winemaking when he spent the 2006 harvest in the village of Maury, in Southwest France, where he did everything from picking and processing grapes to working in the cellar. With the Spanish border just a few kilometers away, the local grapes were Grenache and Carignan - aka Garnacha and Mazuelo. The experience left him with not only a desire to become a professional winemaker but also an appreciation for Spanish wines and grape varieties. Back in the United States, Frazier landed a job with the Konsgaard Winery, maker of high-end Napa Valley Chardonnay. But, in 2010, when he was offered a ton of Albariño from the Vista Luna Vineyard in Lodi, he jumped at the chance to work with the aromatic grape of Galicia. Today he is the General Manager at Konsgaard, but he is able to use his employer’s facilities to also make his own wines based on Spanish varieties. Ferdinand currently makes just three wines: the Tempranillo and Albariño offered by Hotei Wines as well as a Grenache/Carignan blend. With production at less than 1,400 cases, Ferdinand Wines is more artisan winemaker than “boutique” winery. The grapes come from growers in Lodi and the Sierra Foothills that specialize in under-the-radar grape varieties. The wines are crafted by hand, in small lots, fermented on native yeasts and with low sulphur additions. While grape varieties like Albariño and Tempranillo are but tiny drops in the bucket of California vineyards, winemakers like Evan Frazier show us that California can give us so much more than the ubiquitous Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
|Appellation(s)||Borden Ranch (Lodi)|
|Bottle Size||7.5 x 33.0|
|Case Size||32.0 x 24.5 x 35.0|
Whole clusters of handpicked Graciano underwent carbonic maceration by being blanketed with CO2 gas and sealed inside a stainless steel fermentation tank. After five days, the must was pressed and returned to tank to finish fermentation, followed by six months’ aging.